Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Spring Garden Update-2nd Week of May-90 degrees!?!

Greetings from my Kitchen-Garden in the 2nd week of May!

Well, the continuing trend of wacky Spring weather moves on in Portland...This week we went from rain and upper 50s & low 60s to 90s with no 70s or 80s in between. In hurried desperation I busted out my window a/c from it's winter hibernation in the garage and used it every evening for 4 nights. Then after 5 days of 90 degree weather we went right back to 58 and rainy today. Once again, I'll just say this is WEIRD weather even for the unpredicatable-ness of Spring in Portland. And, this kind of up and down extreme weather can just wreak total havoc on your garden.

Last week 2 days prior to the "heat-wave" I got planted the tomato bed. Usually I wait until the end of May around Memorial Day to plant my tomatoes. But, since we are expecting such high temperatures I'm giving it a try now. Unfortunately to plant the tomatoes I had to pull out the tiny spinach, chard and cilantro seedlings I planted from seed in March. This was supposed to be a good use of succession planting, but these guys all took too long and never developed in time. Oh well, honestly, I'd rather have the tomatoes. To prepare my bed for planting I used an organic soil amendment called Bumper Crop by Nurseryman's. It's awesome and loaded with all kinds of good stuff for veggies. I also tried red plastic mulch sheets under the tomato plants this year. I planted 5 tomatoes varieties I'm very excited about: Yellow Pear (cherry), Sweet Million (cherry), Stupice (early slicer), Persimmon (heirloom slicer), and Brandywine (heirloom slicer). I companion planted my tomatoes with alyssum, cosmos, zinnia, marigolds, nasturtium, borage, dill, basil & cilantro. The herbs & cosmos did well but the marigolds and nasturtium totally wilted and died. I don't know if it was the HEAT WAVE or maybe the bumper crop that killed the flowers. I am glad that I got my tomatoes in because they literally doubled in size in the 4 day heat wave.

The Scarlet Runner Bean seeds planted 2 weeks ago have germinated and sprouted up little seedlings. My sugar snap and snow peas are finally growing bigger and bigger. They are really developing late, but I'm glad better late than never, eh?

Just prior to the heat wave I planted another raised bed with more veggie starts: dinosaur kale, rainbow swiss chard, and romaine lettuce. I companion planted with nasturtium, marigolds, snapdragons, cosmos, calendula and alyssum. And, again the marigolds and nasturtium totally died, so I think it was the heat, because I didn't use any bumper crop in this bed. The chard and lettuce totally wilted in the heat but have bounced back fine now that the temps are returning to normal. In this bed the arugula I planted last month totally bolted in the heat. Sadly now I have lots of little white flowers and no much anticipated fresh arugula leaves. Darn that sudden heat wave! It knocked out my entire arugula crop.

In another raised bed buttercrunch lettuce, red romaine lettuce and giant red mustard greens are doing well. I harvested the first head of red romaine lettuce, on hot day, and it was a little bitter. Luckily none of it has bolted in this hot heat. In this bed my dahlia bulbs have sprouted and the companion planted dill, cosmos, and calendula doing well-blooming. This is the raised bed I used "weed whomping mulch" in a a few months ago. It's pretty mixed results as weeds have continued to sprout. Last winter's parsnip tops are growing huge and I wonder what's going on with the tasty roots under the soil.

I tried a new product in my flower bed: Cocoa Mulch and a granular "Shake Away" cat repellent. They both are natural products aimed at keeping cats out of the garden. My flower bed is the neighborhood cat's favorite litter box. Well, the products did keep them out of the targeted flower bed, but apparently it forced them to retaliate in another flower bed where I'd started sunflowers from seeds. Their litter-box-style-scratching destroyed my sunflower seedlings. Now I'll have to buy some sunflower transplants from the nursery. Bummer. I really love sunflowers.

Another sprinkling of sluggo-I've been consistent about every 2 weeks. Sluggo seems to be working well. No signs of slugs yet. I've seen a few aphids here and there, but I also have seen ladybugs here and there, so I'm not worried, yet. Last year we had the aphid summer from hell. The aphids were literally raining from the sky (out of the completely infested plum tree) and they knocked out my entire brassiaca crop. There are definitely masses of cabbage moths everywhere, damn them! Or it could be one really active moth. So I sprayed some BT solution on the veggies, which is a natural product that only targets cabbage moth larvae. It is safe for beneficial bugs, pets, wildlife, and ok to use on my food crops. Hopefully that will do it before they can do too much damage.

For now that's it from my kitchen-garden. Hope you are enjoying your garden!

In Sunshine,
Miss Jolie Ann

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